The Hungarian Presidency addresses the Culture and Education Committee

Labour Party

MEPs have during this week listened to the Hungarian Presidency outlining their priorities for the next six months. Yesterday I blogged on the presentation to the Women’s Committee and today I want to look at Culture, Education and Sport.  The practice whereby the presidency in office talks to European Parliament Committees is, I believe, useful providing as it does an opportunity for Committee members to question the national ministers and get a clearer idea of where the Council wants to go.

We were fortunate to have four Hungarian Ministers come to the Culture and Education Committee earlier in the week Attila Czene, Sport;  Rozsa Hoffman, Education; Geza Szocs, Culture and Miklos Soltesz, Social Policy.

The Presidency is organising a number of conferences and events on each of these topics, including one on early years education and care at the end of February at which I am speaking on my report. Early years is one of the Hungarian Presidency’s top priorities which I think is very good news as it’s been neglected for far too long.

At the other end of the age range, I was pleased to see that the Hungarians are promoting sport for senior citizens. Sport Minister Attila Czene is a former Olympic swimming champion so I expect to see more strong sport initiatives.

Moving on to culture, Mr Szocs talked about the Presidency’s support for the European Heritage Label legislation and for our S&D rapporteur Chrysoulou Paliadeli. He also told us how Hungary will continue the work to protect minors online. However, we did not get anything further from him on the new media legislation and the perception that Hungary is stamping out media pluralism.

Last but by no means least we heard from the Minister for Social Policy, Miklos Soltesz. As you nay expect her was particularly interested in the European Year of Volunteering and hoped that active participation in society may help to bring down youth unemployment.

I would like to thank the Hungarian Ministers for their presentations. They were all well-informed and took the concerns raised by the Committee seriously. However, I fear the media question will dominate unless the concerns of the European Parliament are taken on board by the Hungarian Parliament. I can only hope this will happen so we will be able to work together n a reasonable and constructive way.